How to Play Achroma


Achroma is a fantasy card game for 2-6 players. Battle to shape the future of the Five Realms where the ravages of a dark energy called Achrom is spreading, diminishing the magical life force known as Chroma.

During a game of Achroma, you'll spend Shards – your life energy – to Deploy and battle with heroic Characters, equip them with Objects, harness vital Locations and unleash cunning Actions. Doing so will enable you to gain, drain and steal Shards in return. To win, gather 30 Shards in your bank or reduce other player's banks to 0.




The game area in front of each player is called a Canvas. A Canvas should have an area to Deploy cards, and space for a player’s Palette, Shard Bank and Dregs.

A player’s Palette and Dregs sit in a non-play zone on the Canvas, meaning they’re unaffected by game abilities that target cards on the Canvas.


Each player needs a deck of 30 Achroma cards called a Palette. Achroma box sets contain 2 ready-to-play, pre-constructed Palettes, but you can also build your own Palettes from your Achroma card collection.

A Palette has the following restrictions:

  • Up to 1x Legendary card.
  • Up to 4x Rare cards, but no more than 1 of each card.
  • Any number of Uncommon and Common cards, but no more than 2 of each card.
  • All cards in the Palette need to share the same realm symbol in the top left.


Each player starts with a bank of 10 Shards. Players spend these Shards to Deploy cards from their hand. Deployed Achroma cards have abilities that allow a player to gain, drain, and steal Shards from other players.

To keep track of your bank, we recommend using the free Achroma app for iOS and Android, but tokens or dice also work.


Your Dregs are where your Erased and discarded cards go. Each player has their own and they should be face up. Your Dregs will be empty when you start the game.


Your hand consists of cards drawn from your Palette that are not yet in play. Your hand shouldn't be shown to other players unless stated by an in-game effect.

Each player starts the game with a hand of 5 cards. There’s no limit to how many cards you can have in your hand during the game.



Achroma is played over a series of player turns, each consisting of four steps that must be completed in order. The active player completes all four steps in their turn before play is passed clockwise to the next player. Play continues to go round until there’s a winner. Our companion app determines which player starts first.



In the Start step, you may do one of the following: Draw or Trade.

To draw, take a card from the top of your Palette into your hand.

To trade, discard one card from your hand, sending it to your Dregs. Add that card’s Shard value (the number of filled Shards in its hex) to your bank.

If playing a two player game, the first player should skip their first Start step and go straight to their Main step.

If late into the game, you do not have any cards left to Draw in your Palette, you must Trade.


You can Deploy up to three cards during your turn. Deploy cards from your hand by placing them face up on your Canvas and reducing the Shards in your bank equal to their Shard value.

Characters, locations and Objects may only be Deployed in your Main step. Actions may be Deployed any time during your turn, not just the Main step, but still count towards your three card total for each turn.

Objects can only be Deployed by attaching them to Characters on any Canvas. Show this by overlapping the cards.

Some cards have a gameplay ability that becomes active when it arrives on the Canvas. If the gameplay ability has the keyword ‘ACTION:’ before it, this ability triggers and concludes just once, immediately after the card is Deployed. Otherwise, the ability is considered to be in play every turn the card is on the Canvas.

During your Main step, each Character on your Canvas may make one attack against a Character on another Canvas. Characters that you've Deployed this turn may not attack

To attack, select one of your Characters (called the attacker) and declare their target (called the defender). Attackers and defenders deal Shard damage to each other at the same time equal to their Strength, which is displayed in a circle at the centre of their hex.

For each ‘point’ of Shard damage a card takes, its Shard value (the number of Shards in its hex) is reduced by 1. When a card is reduced to 0 Shards, it’s Erased and sent to its owner’s Dregs.

If a Character has any attached Objects, the Objects add their Strength to the Character’s. Objects also take Shard damage, and do so before their attached Character does. If an Object is Erased, any remaining points of Shard damage is carried over and applied to their attached Character. If a Character has multiple attached Objects, their owner chooses in which order they take Shard damage.

Characters and Objects that survive an attack but have Shard damage, remain damaged until the active player ends their turn, as more damage could be dealt from further attacks and Actions.


In the Resolve step, some cards on your Canvas allow you to gain, drain and steal Shards. To resolve, check the top right corner and the abilities of cards on your Canvas. Resolve 1 card at a time.

[+1] means you gain that many Shards in your bank.

[-1] means you drain that many Shards from another player of your choice.

[±1] means you steal that many Shards from another player of your choice.

You can’t drain or Steal from another player’s bank until everyone else in the game has had their first turn. For Steal and Drain, you must resolve each card fully against 1 opponent.

[Ø1] means Prevent. When other players are attempting to steal and drain from you, Prevent allows you to stop a number of Shards leaving your bank each turn. As the target of a drain or steal, you can choose which Shards to stop leaving your bank. If you Prevent a steal attempt, you don’t lose a Shard and the player attempting to steal doesn’t receive one.

Your Resolve step ends when you choose to enter your End Step.


In the End Step, you can Draw or Trade, just like in the Start Step.


After the End Step, the player’s turn is over when they verbally pass turn. This allows for the Deploying of Actions even after your End Step, provided you have not already played your 3 total cards for the turn. Once a player turn has ended. all cards heal to full Shard value , then the next player begins their turn and continues until there is a winner.


Play continues clockwise until one player reaches 30 Shards in their Bank or all other player’s Shard banks have been reduced to 0.


When a player’s Shard bank reaches 0, they’re out of the game. A player who is out of the game removes their cards from all Canvases. Any cards on their Canvas that belong to other players are sent to their original owner’s Dregs.



Card Type fundamentally defines how you can play the card. There are four card types -

Heroic Cards are a special sub-type that appears on certain cards. These cards represent iconic and eventful Actions, Locations, Characters and Objects across the realm, and so you can only have one copy of a specific Heroic card present on your Canvas at any one time. If a second copy of a specific Heroic card ends up on your Canvas by any means, resolve any Actions on the second copy in full, once done, Erase any extra copies of the specific Heroic until there is only 1.

Realm Symbol represents which realm the card is from. When building your Palette you can only use cards with the matching Realm Symbol.


Card Name is the familiar name used for the card within the realms. All cards have a name, and it represents the Character, Location, Object or Action in the best way.

Strength is the number at the centre of the Hex. When this number appears it means that the card has a Strength that can be used during the Main step of the game.

Gameplay ability is the area representing a unique ability or action that some cards can perform. The gameplay ability area often contains keywords which you can find in the glossary at the bottom of this page.

Card ID is the unique number of the card within the set it is released in.

Lore is the italic text on the card that gives you a little bit of flavour as to what has been happening across the realms.

Hex is represented by a hexagon in the middle of the card and has multiple functions. The colour of the frame tells you the rarity of the card:


Inside the Hex are 6 Shards represented by triangles. Empty Shards appear grey. A Shard is full when it has some Chroma or Achrom in it.


If the Hex of a card on the Canvas is empty, then the card goes into it’s owners Dregsunless stated otherwise. Actions and Attacks are the most common way for cards to end up with an empty Hex.

Effect appears in the top right hand corner next to a number, and can appear as the game ability of a card. All effects impact the Shard Bank in some way. There are 4 effects:


Gain | Add this number of Shards to your bank.

Drain | Choose another player. They must subtract this number of Shards from their bank.

Steal | Choose another player. Add this number of Shards to your bank and subtract the same number of Shards from their bank.

Prevent | Stop this number of Shards from leaving your bank each turn.


CLAIM | Take target card from another player’s Canvas and place on your Canvas under your control. If the CLAIM effect gets removed, the card returns to it’s original owner’s Canvas.

CURSE | Choose a card on any Canvas to CURSE, turn it sideways. It is now Cursed.

DEFEND | When another Character on your Canvas is targeted for an attack, a Character with DEFEND can intercept the attack, replacing them as the target.

DIG | Search your Dregs for a specific card and put it into your hand.

DISPOSE | Erase the card with the word DISPOSE. Once Erased, action the ability on the card. If this is during your turn, you may do this at anytime.
During an opponents turn, each time they declare they are deploying a card, using an ability (from a card on their Canvas) or declaring an attack, you may use DISPOSE once as Reaction. Once you have declared you're using your DISPOSE, the DISPOSE effect happens first, then the original deployment, ability or Attack (If it can still happen). When choosing to React in a multiplayer game, declare and resolve each use of DISPOSE in turn order, ending with the original player's deploy, ability or Attack. (If it can still happen). The original player cannot re-react to their own card being reacted to.
If by using DISPOSE as a Reaction, a new card would be deployed (E.g. Alchemists Tincture), the new card only gets played after all other deployments, abilities and attacks have concluded.

DIVERT | Once per turn, when any Action or ability targets a card on your Canvas, as a Reaction it can be Diverted to this card provided this card is a legal target

FIND | Search your Palette for a specific card and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your Palette.

FREEZE | Choose a card to become FROZEN. A FROZEN card cannot GAIN, DRAIN, STEAL or PREVENT until unfrozen. Cards unfreeze at the end of their controller’s turn.

HUNT | Once per turn you may choose a Character on another player’s Canvas to HUNT. If both the target Character and card that initiated the HUNT are both still on the same Canvases at the start of your next turn, resolve the HUNT effect.

MOUNT | During your Main step, you may attach this Character to an unmounted Dragon or Drake on your Canvas. When attacking and defending, the rider and mount combine Strength and Shards and act as one Character card.

REVEAL | Turn over the top card(s) of your Palette one at a time, face up. Once you have revealed a card that meets the criteria specified by the ability/action, put that card into your hand. Put the overturned cards back into your Palette and shuffle.

POISONOUS | Erases any card on a Canvas it deals any damage to. POISONOUS ignores PROTECTION.

PREVENT X | Where X is the number of Shards in the owner's Bank that are immune to Drain and Steal effects once per player turn.

PROTECTION | A Card with PROTECTION cannot be Erased or Drained of any Shards by another player. This includes by Actions, Abilities and during Attacks, unless the opponent has POISONOUS (see above).

If however, you are forced to choose a card to Erase, or play an ability that Erases cards including your own, PROTECTION will not protect the card.

RAGE | This Character can attack one additional time each turn. You must complete your first attack before you can attack again with any RAGE.

RESEARCH X | Look at the top X cards of your Palette. You may pay 1 Shard per card to put it in your hand. Put any cards you don’t pay for facedown on top of your Palette in any order.

RESTRAIN | Place target card under this card. Target card can’t be used, resolved, effected, or counted for in anyway by other actions whilst Restrained. If the Restraining card is Erased, the Restrained card is returned to it's owner's Canvas.

SACRIFICE | Erase a card from your Canvas.

SECRET | Without looking at it, hide a card from the top of any palette underneath this card. This card is now the Keeper of that card. Immediately at the start of your turn, you may erase the Keeper, flip the hidden card(s) and deploy them for free in any order.

SHIELD WALL X | Characters on your Canvas get X additional Strength when defending.

SPLAT X | You may give another card on any Canvas [+X] until your next turn. Once resolved, the SPLAT is removed. (Watch the video.)

SQUISH X | You may give another card on any Canvas [–X] until your next turn. Once resolved, the SQUISH is removed. (Watch the video.)

TRADE | Discard a card from your hand and Gain Shards equal to the card’s Shard Value.


Attributes | Card information such as card type and faction.

Achrom | A corrupting dark energy. Represented in-game by Black Achrom Shard in the centre hex. A card featuring at least 1 of these Achrom Shards can be considered an Achrom card.

Action | A single-use card type or ability. Action cards can be played any time during a player’s own turn and are Erased once resolved. Actions on Character, Location or Object cards are abilities triggered and resolved once, as soon as they are Deployed.

Attached | When an Object is carried and used by a Character.

Attack | A move intended to weaken or Erase a Character.

Bank | Where a player’s Shards are stored.

Canvas | The play area in front of each player.

Card ID | The Sequence of numbers in the bottom left of an Achroma card.

Character | A card type usually representing heroes, villains or creatures.

Choose X: | If a card allows you to ‘Choose 1:’ this is something you must do when deploying that card and cannot be changed (Unless it specifically says ‘Once during your turn, Choose 1:’).

Chroma | A source of energy, power and life in the Five Realms. Each coloured Chroma Shard represents a different Chroma element. A card featuring at least 1 of these Chroma Shards can be considered a Chroma card.

Controller | The Controller of a card is the player who has that card Deployed on their Canvas.

Copy | When copying a card, everything about the target card is copied over apart from the Shards in the hex. The Shards remain as they were in the card with the ability to copy. If the card being copied has the ‘HEROIC’ sub-type, that’s copied too.

Damage | The act of reducing a card's Shards.

Deploy | Moving a card from a player’s hand and placing it on the Canvas, thereby bringing it into play.

Drain | Removing a number of Shards from a players Shard Bank (If it is a resolve effect) or from a card’s centre hex (If an ability determines this).

Draw | Player takes the top card from their Palette and places it in their hand.

Dregs | A player’s discard pile.

Erase | A card is sent to its owner’s Dregs.

Gain | Add a number of Shards to a player’s Bank.

Give | If a card uses the term ‘Give’ before a Keyword, for example: ‘Give a Character PROTECTION’ then that PROTECTION is a persistent effect even when the original card with ‘Give’ is Erased.

Hand | The cards a player holds. There is no limit to the number of cards you can hold.

Hex | The hexagon in the middle of a card that holds its Shards.

Location | A card type.

Object | A card type. Once Deployed, it must be attached to a Character on the Canvas. Objects lend their Shard Value to attacks and take damage before an attached Character. If a Character has an attached Object and is Erased, the Object is also Erased.

Owner | The Owner of a card is the player who physically owns that card; The player who bought that card to this game in their Palette.

Palette | A player’s deck of cards from which they draw during the game.

Pay x Shards: | You must pay the Shard(s) cost as determined by the card to use the ability that follows. When you can do this is down to the ability you are paying to use. You may only do this once per turn per card with ‘Pay x Shards’.

Reaction | A opportunity to use the keywords: DEFEND, DISPOSE or DIVERT during another players turn.

You may React only after an opponent has either: Declared they wish to deploy a card, use an ability (of a card on their Canvas) or declared an Attack.

Each other player may only React once per opportunity.

Realm | A parallel world, with its own geography and cultures.

Replace | Replace the card that has been Erased with the card that has been selected based on the ability of the card being played. A card being replaced does not count as being Deployed, so ACTION would not be triggered.

Shard | A segment within the Hex that can be full or empty. A life energy and a currency used to Deploy cards from your hand.

Shard Value | The number of Shards a player must play from their bank in order to Deploy the card. Shard Value is also a measure of a card's Strength and life. Shard Value is determined by the number of filled Shards in its Hex.

Steal | A player removes Shards from one player’s Bank and adds that amount to their own.

Turn | A player’s turn consists of five steps. A complete game turn is when all players have completed a player turn.


Q. Can Characters attack Locations?
A. No. Unless an ability states otherwise, Characters cannot attack Locations.

Q. What happens when I run out of cards in my Palette and hand?
A. You continue on without drawing or trading.

Q. How many HEROIC cards can I have in my Palette or on my Canvas?
A. You can have as many HEROIC cards as you like in your Palette, so long as your Palette conforms to the usual build restrictions (i.e. number of Rares and Legendaries). You cannot have more than one copy of the same HEROIC card on your Canvas (i.e. you can only have 1x Jarvis Tremma on your Canvas at any one time.)


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